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Is Growing Up Affluent Risky for Adolescents or Is the Problem Growing Up in an Affluent Neighborhood?


Requests for reprints should be sent to Eric Dearing, Department of Counseling and Developmental and Educational Psychology, Lynch School of Education, Boston College, 140 Commonwealth Avenue, Chestnut Hill, MA 02467. E-mail:


Community studies indicating that affluence has social-emotional consequences for youth have conflated family and neighborhood wealth. We examined adolescent boys' delinquency and adolescent girls' anxiety-depression as a function of family, neighborhood, and cumulative affluence in a sample that is primarily of European–American descent, but geographically and economically diverse (N = 1,364). Boys in affluent neighborhoods reported higher levels of delinquency and girls in affluent neighborhoods reported higher levels of anxiety-depression compared with youth in middle-class neighborhoods. Neither family affluence nor cumulative affluence, however, placed boys or girls at risk in these domains. Indeed, boys' delinquency and girls' anxiety-depression levels were lowest for those in affluent families living in middle-class neighborhoods.